Dust and Roses
The remnant of chalk flipped from Bea’s fingertips, falling to the thick grass. Bea jumped to the ground, bent over, and retrieved the stub. When she stood to face Sara, her face went ashen. Bea had a flair for the dramatic, but enough was enough. “Who is Sally?” Impatience edged Sara’s voice.
Bea looked over Sara’s shoulder. She mouthed the words Turn around. The remnant of chalk flipped from Bea’s fingers, falling to the thick grass. Bea jumped to the ground, bent over, and retrieved the stub. When she stood to face Sara, her face went ashen.
Bea had a flair for the dramatic, but enough was enough. “Who is Sally?” Impatience edged Sara’s voice.
Bea pointed beyond Sara’s shoulder. She mouthed the words. Turn around.
Sara glanced to the northern sky.
An impenetrable black wall took up a quarter of the northwestern horizon, dwarfing distant objects. Faint wisps of …
At eighteen hundred hours, we gathered without fanfare and slogged out of camp. Not a march. Imagine trying to march on a beach. With each step, we churned the sand, which worked its way into our boots. The weight was not much, but each step whittled out strength to a helpless state of fatigue. A desert army is only as fit as its vehicles and armor, and we had neither.
We plodded eastward in a narrow column, following the faint path the half-track took the previous day. On either side of us were unexploded German landmines. Eating dust stirred from the marchers ahead was preferable to stepping on a mine.
Nearly eight hundred men were making an act of faith that the New Zealanders would follow through with the surrender and then feed and give us shelter. The heat bore down on our backs, sucking the sweat from us. The day waned, but not fast enough. Our shadows grew longer before us, but the relentless heat failed to abate. We lumbered on.
Behind us, the air thundered with a series of dull thuds. I glanced behind me. Two thin columns of smoke rose and mingled together in a darkening azure sky. Our sappers succeeded in destroying our…
Ghost of a Chance, a short story.
“So, you’re saying some developer is destroying Cedar Rest to make way for a casino?” Sandra crossed her arms brightening to a dazzle. John shielded his eyes. Susan shined like a spotlight when she grew irritated.
The other three spirits sat downcast. John Peterson rubbed his brows. Explaining the material world to Susan was like talking to a … wall. “It’s a matter of money. I need to come up with a quarter million dollars to beat the developer’s offer to buy this old house. I’m just a renter. I came here to work on my music. I haven’t got that kind of cash.”
“It’s we, John. We’re all in this together. And we appreciate you help us to save our home. Most humans would have simply moved, leaving us homeless when our home becomes rubble. Even when you first moved in, we thought you were different. Quiet, yet intense. We liked the guitar playing. You didn’t even flinch when we showed ourselves to you.”
“I was working on lyrics to a love song wishing I had an audience. Then you three showed up. Now, I’ve gotten used to the idea of a house with built in critics.”
“Anyway,” said Sandra, “Thanks.”
Bernadette nodded. “We couldn’t do this ourselves.”
Patrick nodded, “We’re attached to the place. This is our home.”
“So we need a plan for lots of cash. Or else bulldozers will be knocking down this old rest home in three months.” John peered at the spirits. “Got any ideas?”
“How’s this?” Bern shimmered with excitement, “Cedar Rest could be a haunted bed-and-breakfast.”
Maybe we could host a murder-mystery parties. We could even act out the murder.” Patrick drew a finger across his translucent